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The importance of timing when it comes to literacy | Ready to Read

The importance of timing when it comes to literacy

By | News
The importance of timing when it comes to literacy | Ready to Read

We had the pleasure of contributing to a recent Ellaslist article about literacy. In particular, the article highlights the importance of timing when it comes to literacy.

There is a prevalent lack of awareness amongst parents about the benefits of early literacy and the options they have, which is set to exacerbate our already problematic literacy rates in Australia. However, the article mentions some initiatives to address the issue; and there are simple things that parents can do to start the journey towards literacy. For instance, it’s never too early to start reading books to your child; and yes, engaging in some early literacy activities to develop phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, handwriting and understanding of print concepts, goes a long way towards ensuring a child starts school ready to progress rather than set up to struggle.

Think of it as strapping on a helmet before riding a bike – a proactive approach can prevent a child from struggling at school and can therefore avoid all of the subsequent impacts on their confidence, self-esteem and behaviour.

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Children's Library | Ready to Read

What is the Ready to Read children’s library?

By | News
Children's Library | Ready to Read

The Ready to Read children’s library is a pop-up facility designed to bring the joy of reading into the community. You will find it at community events, expos, markets and shopping centres.

The library offers a wide range of engaging children’s books to sit and enjoy, regular story time, fun written activities for kids and a relaxed reading space designed specifically for children.

Follow Ready to Read on Facebook to find out where and when the next pop-up library will take place!

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Preparing Children for ‘Big School’ | Ready to Read

Preparing children for ‘big school’

By | Bridge To School, News
Preparing Children for ‘Big School’ | Ready to Read

Helping your preschool-aged child prepare for the big leap from home to school can be an exciting but stressful time for many families. Starting school isn’t what it used to be, when children would ‘show up’ on the first day with little to no background knowledge or skills. Add to this the increasing competition surrounding education and the conflicting opinions outlaid through online chat groups; and parents are left wondering what on earth they’re meant to do to ensure their child will start school with confidence.

How can parents assist children in the lead up to starting school?

Parents can help their children prepare for formal schooling in a few simple ways: Developing daily routines really helps, as does encouraging independent behaviour in children.

Some simple daily actions for your child could include:

  • Waking up at a certain time, while still leaving plenty of time to get ready in the morning
  • Eating a healthy breakfast, to ensure they have the energy they need to learn and concentrate
  • Eating breakfast without the distraction of technology
  • Completing activities as independently as possible, in the same order each day (see ‘Morning routine’ template below)

To help alleviate anxiety and fear of the unknown, visit the school beforehand and talk positively about all the fun things that will happen at school.

Are there any skills that children should master before they start school?

Before children start school, parents should encourage their child’s independence by helping them master the following skills:

  • Managing the toilet on their own, as well as their personal hygiene
  • Learning to dress themselves and put on their own shoes
  • Carrying their own school bag (simple but necessary!)
  • Learning how to recognise and take care of their personal belongings (which all need to be labelled)
  • Learning how to open containers, unscrew lids and unwrap a sandwich

What’s the best way for parents to stay involved in their child’s school life?

The best thing parents can do for their children is simply taking an interest in their child’s school day, talking positively about their efforts and looking at their schoolwork. Children are often very tired at the end of the school day, so patience will be required. Prompting questions may include “How was your day?”; “What was the best thing that happened today?”; and “What was one thing that you learnt today?”. These simple questions can help to release the information and experiences that your child has stored throughout the day. When parents are involved in their child’s education, it gives children the best start to their learning journey. Meeting your child’s teacher/s and keeping the school informed of any changes that may be affecting your child, helps tremendously. Making sure all children’s’ belongings are clearly labelled helps children keep track of their own things when at school!

The first year of a child’s schooling is an important one!

Children join kindergarten classes, their first formal year of schooling, with a variety of different preschool experiences, reading levels and abilities. It’s important that their first experiences at school are happy and fun; and that they feel safe, secure and welcome. Parents can help by reading daily with their child, practising the skills learnt at school and responding positively to all progress.

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Speech and language – The key to academic success

By | Bridge To School, News

Good speech and language skills are crucial to the effective communication of each child and are a critical part of their overall development. Oral language skills enable a child to convey information to others in a meaningful way, support thinking and problem solving, help express feelings and develop and maintain friendships. Good communication skills are important skills for life.

Learning to listen, understand, use and enjoy language is also the first vital step in literacy and forms the basis for learning to read and write. A solid foundation in spoken language skills is important for academic and social competence.

What is the difference between speech and language?

Speech refers to the ability to produce the sounds that form words, while language refers to the words that a child understands and uses to communicate. Language includes spoken and written language, both of which a child needs to master.

Vocabulary – A powerful predictor of reading success

Oral vocabulary refers to words that we use in speaking, or comprehend in listening. Current research indicates that oral vocabulary skills are related to literacy success. Having a good understanding of different words and being able to use a range of different words in conversation is essential for communication and is a key component in reading for meaning. If a child knows the meaning of a word they are far more likely to be able to read it accurately and relate it to what they are reading. Comprehension is the goal of all reading activities.

How to encourage your child’s speech and language development

In Australia’s multicultural society, it is an asset to be bilingual. If your family speaks two languages, you can encourage your child’s language development in both languages.

    • Talk to your child: One of the best ways to encourage a child’s speech, language  and vocabulary development is simply to talk to your child. Talk about what is happening in your daily life and what interests them. Evidence suggests that children of families who chat with them frequently, may hear an average of 2100 words per hour. Over three years, this means that children might hear over 48 million words.
    • Read and share books together: Shared book reading activities that involve language interaction are an exciting and fun way to develop a child’s vocabulary and language skills. It also helps develop their listening skills and awareness of print, e.g. point to the words as you read, as this helps them develop an awareness between the written and the spoken word. These are important concepts for developing literacy. Help your child learn that books and reading are fun so they develop a positive attitude to reading.
    • Introduce nursery rhymes: Sing songs and nursery rhymes in the car, in the bath and at bedtime. If nursery rhymes are not part of your culture, you can borrow books, DVDs or CDs from your local library. Rhyming skills are important for literacy development as children develop an awareness of rhythm and the sound patterns of words that are important for reading and spelling.

Early intervention for children with speech and language delays between the ages of two and six years is very important as it will have the most impact on their communication skills, which are crucial for later literacy and academic achievement. Intervention before a child starts kindergarten will mean that the transition from preschool will be much more successful.

Marilyn Costello, B. App. Sc. Speech Pathology, Dip. T. (Infants and Primary), has worked as a Head of Department of Speech Pathology; as a teacher; and co-created the Ready to Read early literacy program. She has more than 30 years’ experience working with children in preschools, schools and community health throughout New Zealand, Tasmania and Sydney.

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